Last night “Anonymous” left the following comment and I felt it was worthy of a whole blog post. The snippets of paragraphs come from the article entitled, “When Should a Christian Leave a Church” at the Battered Sheep website (also noted in this blog’s sidebar). The entire comment is indented and italicized; my comments will not be indented and will be in this font.
The following was helpful insight after leaving this church:
‘When Should a Christian Leave a Church?’
By John G. Reisinger
“Lording it over the flock provokes church fights and splits. A domineering spirit in elders provokes mature men of strong minds and independent judgement to leave the church. These very ones would have the greatest potential for future leadership in the assembly. Dictatorial measures make lesser men craven and dependent, stunting their true growth. But it also has its harmful effects on the “lords over God’s heritage.” It makes them egotistical and self serving.
…you can stay in that church. However, you will have to shut up and obey the “duly authorized eldership” and totally dry up spiritually. You will be sinning against Christ by allowing your pastor to be the lord of your conscience–and believe me, that is a grave sin! If you stay under such a ministry very long you cannot help but yield your conscience to the leader. However, the moment you do that you will begin to live in fear of that leader and his authority over your soul. When you reach that point, you are actually part of a cult and you have totally given up your true liberty in Christ. You will be afraid to even think for yourself, let alone speak and act that way.
This is very sad to me. What you have is a bunch of scared sheep who are afraid to ask questions, maybe afraid to leave because they know how people who leave are treated. Although there are no ropes physically holding people to the church, it seems as if they are being held emotionally captive and emotionally paralyzed to do anything. At this point, it almost becomes more easy to remain because the emotional price to leave and the fear of the unknown can be daunting.
Unfortunately, there are some churches that actually demand that kind of submission from you in order for you to be a member in their church, or cult, as the case may be. They will bounce you in and out of membership according to your “rebellion” (questioning anything the elder says or does) or “repentance” (treating the pastor like a pope)…. These kind of churches use the office of elder and deacon as a carrot stick to award the “really loyal devotees.” It is sickening to see men grovel and lick boots in order to be in favor and power with “the man of God”.
We can see the action of the “really loyal devotees” quite frequently on the Google and Dexknows review sites. If a negative review is posted, the loyal devotees will quickly edit their review so that their glowing 5-star review remains on the 1st page, hoping to bury the negative review deeper. Clearly, it’s all about protecting the image of the pastor and church.
…The next time some key families leave a church, don’t be too quick to believe that the “duly authorized” pastor and his devotees were right and the people who left were all “rebels against authority.” It just may be that the pastor was a power mad paranoid that had begun to think of himself as the infallible voice of God. It is possible that the power structure in a church can be wrong!”
Sadly, the sheep sitting in the pews may have lost their ability to think clearly under the oppressive and abusive environment. They even accept it when Scripture is used completely out of context. It takes a very powerful person to be able to leave a church like this – it takes amazing strength and courage. And that is why I have this blog – we were silenced and possibly shunned, but now we have the opportunity to openly dialogue about what happened, what we went through, how it affected us, how to move on, how to find healthy new churches, how to get support, etc.
5 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Comment”
Julie Anne, this was so good, and I totally agree with it!
Oh, I forgot to mention, that I too have heard him make that comment too! I forgot all about that, thanks for reminding me!Don
HI Don – You're welcome! Nice to see a familiar face 🙂
Julie Anne,I've been perusing your site today. I want to thank you for your courage and bravery. What you are sharing is important!My husband and I joined a church that had major fissures after some criminal activity of a pastor 7 years ago. We do not know this pastor, but we do know how the devastating effect of his domineering behavior on our precious church family.Thank you for your blog. I intend to read it all. It is so helpful to me in understanding how my family members must feel after years of abuse at the hand of a self-promoting tyrant.We are blessed now with a wonderful and humble pastor. His love for Jesus is apparent in his sermons and daily interactions. He has worked tirelessly with the new pastors from the churches that split from ours during those difficult days to bring us back together through joint services and projects. His goal is for our church to be a family and for our community to heal. He takes many public beatings after services and in business meetings. It will take a long time. Old behaviors die hard and big wounds take years to heal.I pray for God's protection and comfort for you and your family. This verse has come quite in handy for me lately. Joshua 1:9 (NIV-1984) : Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” God Bless you!
Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comment and support, Lynne. This spiritual abuse stuff is not isolated, sadly, and what we experienced is what so many have experienced with different twists and turns. Hopefully the stories can help identify the problems so we can move along to healthy churches and grow to be what Christ wants us to be. It sounds like your church is headed in a positive direction and the pastor has a heart of a true shepherd. Wonderful!Thanks again!